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8 August

In the headlines

Average pay is to rise faster than inflation for the first time in 14 months. New figures due to be released next week are expected to show July’s inflation rate falling to 6.8%, from 7.9% in June, and earnings to have risen more than 7% year-on-year. “We are moving in the right direction and we have now reached an inflection point,” one economist tells The Times. Last month was the hottest ever recorded on Earth, climatologists have announced. The average global temperature in July was 16.95C, 0.33C warmer than the previous record, set in July 2019. The video conferencing platform Zoom has ordered staff to return to the office. Though the firm became an essential part of pandemic-era remote working, it now wants employees to show up in person for at least two days a week so they can “interact with their teams”.


Summer’s hottest drink has arrived, says, and thankfully it’s not “yet another spritz”. Instead, it’s the pickle martini: a refreshing, salty, and “entirely unique” take on the classic cocktail that swaps olives for gherkins. One fancy New York bar, Pastis, tops its offering with a cornichon; another creates a “dirty martini” by mixing pickle juice, olive oil and honey. It “might not be as Instagrammable as a tropical cocktail”, but it’s got a “tang that makes your mouth pucker and go back in for another sip”.

Inside politics

If Keir Starmer defeats the Tories next year, says Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph, he’ll be the first new PM aged over 60 to come in by a general election since Clement Attlee in 1945. In 1987, Margaret Thatcher’s veteran deputy, Willie Whitelaw, observed the strain high office was having on her, remarking: “There goes a woman who won’t fight another general election.” She was 61 years old.

On the money

Hollywood actors short on cash during the industry-wide strike are turning to the personalised video message app Cameo to pay the bills, says The New York Times. American Horror Story star Cheyenne Jackson charges $95 per message – “my husband cringed a little, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do” – while Charmed actress Alyssa Milano charges $250 a pop, calling it a “great way to supplement some income during this idle time”. Union members are forbidden from filming or promoting projects during strike action, but making Cameo videos is, for the most part, allowed.

Gone viral

The Estonian high-wire artist Jaan Roose has set a new world record for the longest single-building slackline crossing, says PetaPixel. Battling strong winds and scorching temperatures, the 31-year-old walked 150 feet along a one-inch-wide wire strung between the two 60th-floor penthouses of the Katara Towers in Qatar. Photographer Volodya Voronin admitted he found the process “chaotic”, but said that for Roose, it was “as simple as drinking morning coffee”. Watch a video here.

Tomorrow’s world

American scientists have achieved “net energy gain” in a nuclear fusion reaction for the second time, says the FT, in a promising step towards the dream of “limitless, zero-carbon power”. Boffins at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California first achieved the feat, known as “ignition”, last year, and were able to not only recreate the results but also increase the amount of energy produced. It’s still early days, though: the experiment generated roughly enough juice to power a household iron for an hour.


It’s Harry Styles, as painted by David Hockney. The 86-year-old artist invited the former One Direction singer to his Normandy studio last May, to sit for a new piece that will go on display at the National Portrait Gallery. “David Hockney has been reinventing the way we look at the world for decades,” Styles tells Vogue. “It was a complete privilege to be painted by him.” The painter played it a bit cooler. “I wasn’t really aware of his celebrity,” says Hockney. “He was just another person who came to the studio.”



“Why worry? Worry is the interest you pay on a debt that never comes due.”


David Mamet